Md. surgeons remove donated kidney through vagina

Associated Press Writer

AP Photo/Rob Carr

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Surgeons removed a woman's kidney through her vagina so she could give it to her ailing niece, an unusual operation they hope will encourage others to donate because it reduces pain, scarring and recovery time. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said donor Kimberly Johnson, 48, and her niece, Jennifer Gilbert, 23, were both doing well following operations Thursday.

"It was easier than childbirth," said Johnson, who has three children.

Transvaginal kidney removals have been done before to remove cancerous or nonfunctioning kidneys, and other diseased organs have also been removed through mouths and other orifices. Many donated kidneys are removed laparoscopically, through small keyhole incisions.

But hospital officials think this may be the first time a donor kidney was removed through the vagina.

The operation left three pea-size scars on the Lexington Park woman's abdomen, one hidden in her navel. Surgeons hope the procedure will lead more women to become donors, said Dr. Robert Montgomery, chief of the transplant division at Johns Hopkins, who led the team that performed the surgery.

Johnson said the operation was less painful than gall bladder surgery and she is recovering more quickly than Gilbert's father, who gave his daughter a kidney 12 years ago.

Gilbert, of Baltimore, needed the first transplant because repeated infections had destroyed the kidneys she was born with. She needed the second after she began suffering chronic rejection.

Johnson, an assistant sales manager for a St. Mary's County newspaper, said she was able to get out of bed Thursday night, the same day the kidney was removed.

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Put Health History in Digital Form

from Charleston Gazette, The .. 

By Dr. Michael O. Fidler 

Getting away from home and seeing new sights can be a rewarding experience. But getting sick or hurt far from home can be downright scary. You must trust your well-being to health-care providers you have never met before in facilities unfamiliar to you. 

For the physician who must treat you, the challenge to treat you is much greater without records kept by your regular doctor. The doctor's task is even more difficult if you are physically unable to tell him or her about your medical history or if you cannot recall which prescription drugs you take or which substances cause you to have allergic reactions. 

The more a doctor knows about your health conditions, the better that doctor can make informed decisions on how to treat you. The less a doctor knows about you, the more likely he or she might make an error. A less serious consequence, but potentially a quite expensive one, is that the doctor might order tests you already had. 

If the doctor is lucky, he or she might be able to reach your home doctor by phone to discuss your condition and perhaps get some of your records faxed. But imagine how useful it would be for the treating physician to have access to all necessary files. Quicker, more efficient health care is generally better health care, especially in emergencies. 

That would be possible if both physicians used electronic health records systems. One physician could quickly transfer your files electronically to the other, allowing that doctor to make decisions based on more complete information. It might not be the same as getting treatment from your hometown doctor, but could be the next best thing. 

One important concern is security. No one wants such private information to fall into the hands of computer hackers or others who have no business handling it. The good news is that patient privacy and security are built into all electronic records systems. Plus, unlike paper records, electronic records can be encoded so that only authorized people can view them. 

Good electronic health records systems not only limit access to records but also make it possible to track who has viewed any particular record. 

Some doctors have switched from paper records to electronic records, but many more should consider it. Not only would that better your odds of getting the best care away from home, but it would give your regular doctor many other advantages. 

Electronic records make it easier to track trends in the data collected on their patients, which could alert them to developing conditions that need to be treated. Electronic records also require much less storage space than paper, and they can be backed up and stored securely off site, which would protect them in case of a fire or flood. 

A survey of U.S. physicians published by the New England Journal of Medicine in June found that two-thirds of those who had not switched to electronic health records systems listed the cost of purchasing systems as the main reason. But as has happened with other technology, as more physicians go to electronic record- keeping, the costs should come down. 

Also, the federal government has begun offering financial incentives to get physician practices to use electronic health records, so that barrier is being lowered. 

Thus, it would be timely for physicians still using paper health records to start seriously considering a change. And it could help if some of their patients would encourage them to do so. 

It could be for everyone's benefit. 

Fidler is a doctor at Bone & Joint Surgeons Inc. in Charleston. 

(c) 2009 Charleston Gazette, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc. 

VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc. Opens Nursing and English Review Centers in Asia

VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc. Opens Nursing and English Review Centers in Asia
 When the company first began looking at Thailand we saw it was a country that is very positive to business and healthcare  

NCLEX-RN and English Language Review Centers Opened in Asia by VisionQwest When the company first began looking at Thailand we saw it was a country that is very positive to business and healthcare  

Beverly Hills, CA, USA (PRWEB) January 24, 2009 -- VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc. has begun to expand its review center operations by opening review centers in Makati City, Philippines and in Bangkok, Thailand. The review center in the Philippines has started their review services in the area of NCLEX-RN for nurses wanting to obtain United States nursing licenses, IELTS for English language requirements for immigration. Other review courses will also cover CGFNS and TOEFL. The focus of the review centers is to focus on providing quality fast paced review courses to enhance the foreign nursing professional with the ability to pass their licensing and any immigration requirements to work in the United States and other countries. Other review courses will be added to help other professions pass testing requirements. 

The VisionQwest review center in Makati City, Philippines will be expanded in mid-year 2009 to the Province of Bulacan to support nursing schools in that region of the country. The review centers are using the best training technologies for intense fast paced review sessions and practice testing software applications to help the nurses pass their tests with higher efficiency. The Makati, Philippines review facility now employs ten MD/RN review trainers and a full time IT department to maintain the systems on a daily basis. The vision of the review centers is to maintain quality review sessions and provide professional services. February registration for review classes have already started and the review staff have prepared solid review schedules running from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day. 

Each of the Philippine review sessions is twenty-six (26) days with review instructors who are all Medical Doctors, Philippine licensed nurses and United States licensed nurses. The twenty-six (26) day review session also comes with a four (4) day Power Pack review session that will help the nurse right before going in for testing. Nurses are also able to just sign up for the Power Pack review session instead of the full package of twenty-six (26) days and the four (4) day Power Pack session. Quality review sessions will also review the ethics and quality of nursing required by the industry in the United States and other countries. All foreign review staff is reviewed by review staff in the corporate office in Los Angeles, California. Close Circuit Television cameras are in each class room so the United States review managers can monitor all review sessions and provide quality control corrections to make the review sessions better. 

The Philippine review facility has also started a program to train nurses in "Skilled Nursing Facility Specialist - Geriatrics Nursing". This is a 14 month training program to review all of the regulations of working in a skilled nursing facility in the United States. It teaches them how to work with state and federal regulators, medication, the rights of the patient, and other issues that nurses face on a daily basis in facilities. The training program is designed for nurses to go to the United States for a fourteen month period, take a 14 month training program in the US review center and on the floor of a facility, and cover study material taught by a RN specialized in geriatrics nursing. At the end of the 14 month process they then are required to go back to the Philippines and teach in the review center to nurses who have passed NCLEX, have a working petitioner in the United States, and assigned to a skilled nursing facility in California. 

By middle of the second quarter of 2009 VisionQwest will open a full NCLEX-RN review and English language learning center in Bangkok, Thailand. All of the legal requirements are being completed to comply with Thailand laws, office and training space has already been retained. This facility will cover the country of Thailand and all provinces, as well as the countries of Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. The focus of the Thailand center will be to focus on the English language schools of highly trained and qualified nurses. Thailand has become the hub of healthcare in Asia and VisionQwest respects this reputation, the company will also fulfill the need for English and NCLEX-RN review sessions for Thailand nurses wanting to go to the United States to work. "When the company first began looking at Thailand we saw it was a country that is very positive to business and healthcare" stated Michael Lodge, President and CEO of VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc. With this positive attitude of a country VisionQwest feels it is a positive decision to do business in Thailand and looks forward to corporate growth in the region. Future English language and professional foreign license review centers will also be in Korea, China and Taiwan over the next two years. 

VisionQwest was formed in 2002 and operates it corporate offices in Los Angeles, California with branch offices in London, Dubai, Philippines and now Thailand. The company has three divisions that cover global corporate and client operations. VisionQwest Healthcare is a full service human resource and staffing firm for medical staffing in major medical facilities and skilled nursing facilities in the United States. The healthcare division also provides management services to skilled nursing facilities throughout California. VisionQwest Accountancy Group has a strong individual and corporate tax service group and provides healthcare and corporate accounting to client firms. VisionQwest Staffing Group provides high level executives in management and finance to corporate clients globally. VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc - Philippines operates the Asia review centers and their support services. To learn more about VisionQwest you may visit the corporate web-site at 

VisionQwest Resource Group, Inc. - providing global business and healthcare services. 

Michael L Lodge
President & CEO
Phone: 818.547.0497 Ext 5
E-Mail: mlodge (at) vqrginc (dot) com

Canada: No Caring For Those Who Give Care

By V. Radhika,Womens Feature Service

Juana Rodriguez, 40, is a picture of composure as she narrates the ordeal of changing beds, walking the dogs and performing every job other than what she had been hired for: a nanny to two kids. But her voice falters and tears well up in her eyes as she recounts the epitaph hurled at her by her employer's eight-year-old son.

"He called me 'Stupid' and his mother did not say a word. I could not take this insult. Back home, I was very popular with kids and they all adored me," says this former teacher from the Philippines, one among thousands of Filipinas who arrive in Canada to work as nannies.

What Rodriguez experienced is not unique. Lured by the promise of probable citizenship under Canada's Live-in Caregiver programme, many Filipinas leave behind their families to work as caregivers (including as nannies and care-providers to the elderly) sending remittances back home that not only support their own families but boost the country's economy. Under the caregiver programme, after working as live-in caregivers for two years, workers may apply for landed immigration status. It is estimated that overseas Filipinos, particularly women working as domestic workers, send over $8 billion as annual remittances.

A large number of these workers are in Canada. More than 7,000 Filipinas arrive in this country each year under the federal government's live-in caregiver programme. It is a dream many are willing to risk everything for.

"I know many nannies that paid over $5,000 to employment agencies to help them find a job in Canada," says Rodriguez. She, however, counts herself lucky as her Canada-based cousin found her employment. And that is how last summer she left her husband and three children behind to work in Canada. As the aircraft hovered over Toronto's Pearson airport, Rodriguez recalls the palpable excitement. "I thought I was so lucky to be here. Lots of people apply and pay money, but here I was with a job in hand and a cousin to navigate me. I wanted to come here because it is a good country and there are lots of opportunities, not only for you but your whole family," she says.

However, within a week, new realities surfaced. Though hired as a nanny, the slightly-built former-teacher was mopping floors, walking three dogs ("they were so much bigger than me!" she exclaims), gardening and so on. Added to this, every meal she ate was subject to scrutiny. A veil of sorrow clouds Rodriguez's face as she recalls the employer complaining that she ate big meals. "And all I had was an egg sandwich," she smiles ruefully.

After a few months, Rodriguez mustered enough courage to speak to her cousin and quit her job. She subsequently found employment with a South Asian couple and is very happy with her current job. "They take good care of me. I was lucky I had someone to go to. But I know there are many who continue to work in difficult situations because they do not want to jeopardise their future," she says.

Agatha Mason agrees. The Executive Director of Intercede, an organisation that works for the rights of domestic workers, caregivers and newcomers, reels off instances where workers such as Rodriguez are subjected to cheating, abuse and insecurity. Mason has received several complaints from nannies, who are told on their arrival in Canada that sometimes left high and dry, after being told that someone else has been hired in their place. In the absence of any regulations governing the recruiting agencies, observes Mason, the nannies are left to fend for themselves.

In fact, many women often borrow or mortgage their property to raise the agency's fee, which runs into a couple of thousands of dollars. "With so much at stake, should it come as a surprise that they put up with abuse and insecurity to hold on to their jobs?" remarks Rodriguez.

Celina Bautista is a testimony to this. She came to Canada in 1997 to work for an affluent family in Ontario. Paid a wage of $5 per hour, she was responsible for looking after three children, cooking meals for the entire family, and doing all the housekeeping. "Often," she says, "I would be with the children until midnight while the parents worked late or were out with friends." And, she was not paid for overtime.

Bautista, later, learned from a friend that she was being grossly underpaid. Nothing changed after she talked to her employers. Months away from completing the LCP (Live-In Caregiver Programme), she did not want to jeopardise her relationship with her employers. "I couldn't do anything because I needed my landed [immigration] status so I had to stay there," she says.

As recently as six months ago, Toronto newspapers flashed the story of Catherine Manuel, who came to Canada as a live-in nanny to care for eight-year-old Brent of Toronto. Manuel was promised about $420 a week to care for young Brent, with weekends and holidays off. Instead, she was underpaid and worked "morning, noon and night" as a cleaner, servant and handy-woman. Young Brent and his mother never surfaced - perhaps they existed only on paper. The agency that brought her over to Canada said they worked on the basis of papers provided to them, but could not help Manuel. Moved her by her story, many Canadians came forward with job offers.

But not everyone is lucky or has the courage to quit. Geraldine Pratt, a Geography professor at the University of British Columbia, has researched the situation of Filipino domestic workers in Vancouver, in collaboration with the Vancouver-based Filipino Workers Centre. According to Pratt, the dissolution of boundaries between home and workplace created by the live-in requirement can lead to added stress for domestic workers. "Because the nanny lives inside the house, she can't quite escape from the demands of the family," Pratt said in an interview.

Mason attests to this and says this situation makes it easy for employers to stretch the workday or increase the workload. In more severe cases, she says, the live-in situation has created conditions for physical, sexual, and verbal abuse to occur.

Pratt's research has also focused on how Filipino nannies are perceived in comparison to nannies from Europe or Australia. She noted a difference in wages and in what is asked of the nanny. "They're treated much more like servants than the classic au pair," said Pratt.

Mason says the live-in requirement of the programme makes it difficult for the government to regulate what happens in the home. Rodriguez thanks her stars for landing her current job. It pays for her three children's education at a private school and the hiring of a nanny back home to take care of them.

All this comes at a price though. "I miss my children, my home," she says. It is especially hard during special occasions, such as their birthdays or Christmas. "Last year (on Christmas), my friend and I went to a shopping mall, and after coming out we cried our hearts out," she smiles sadly. Her plans to travel home this year for Christmas came to a naught as her work permit extension did not come in time.

But she looks forward to the day when she will sponsor her family to come over to Canada and start a new life there. She also plans to upgrade her skills so that she can eventually step out of a nanny's shoes. Says she, "This is a land of opportunity and I hope to make the best use of it."

Keep the Faith

Immigration experts are urging Filipino, Chinese and Indian nurses who want to work in the United States to "remain faithful" to that goal despite a current moratorium in the issuance of new visas.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency responsible for processing immigration applications, has put on hold employment-based visas for foreign nurses in order to clear its backlog.

What this means for foreign nurses is that, instead of getting a work permit in about 60 days, they must now wait up to 3 years to enter the United States.

In theory, the hold applies to all nations, but the Philippines, China and India supply, by far, the largest share of foreign nurses seeking to work in the United States.

According to an October 2004 study by the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health, more than 50,000 nurses had moved to the United States to work in the previous 4 years. More than 28,000 foreign-educated nurses applied for nursing licenses in the United States between January and September 2004. That amounts to 27 percent of all applicants taking the test, and nearly double the number who applied in all of 1999, according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. 

USCIS said it would no longer issue employment-based (EB-3) visas for workers in countries that have exceeded their annual quota for green cards until new visas become available. This policy puts on hold processing of visas for workers whose employers petitioned after Jan. 1, 2002. The Philippines, China and India have all met their visa quotas.

Even so, advisers to would-be immigrant nurses urge calm. The nursing shortage in America isn't going away and healthcare employers are already lobbying the U.S. Congress to amend the law on which the new policy is based.

"Thus, it would be safe to assume that the delays in the immigrant visa processing will be temporary, and that solutions to this crisis will be forthcoming," said Wawel Mercado, a spokesperson for Philippines-based PNI International, a recruitment firm. "So if you are truly committed to working as a nurse in the United Sates, the general advice is to remain faithful to the nursing practice, and expect the immigrant visa queue for nurses to return to normal in due time."

In January, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-California) introduced a bill to allot unused visas from other countries to nurses from the Philippines, India and China, thereby circumventing a backlog in visa processing.

"I am outraged that the efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to clear out a backlog of pending immigration cases will be keeping much-needed nurses coming from the Philippines and other countries," said Lantos said. "This is a ridiculous situation, given the shortage of nurses faced by hospitals in California and nationwide."

Meanwhile, recruiting firms, employers and others are urging foreign nurses not to lose heart. In California, JUNO Healthcare Staffing System is offering a series of lectures to explain the new regulations to nurses. In Philadelphia, the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) says it is "expediting" the processing of applicants for whom the retrogression deadline is imminent.

Still, limited visa availability likely will add at least two years to what is already a nine- to 24-month process, said Meladee Stankus, RN, MS, founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Nurse Immigration USA, which recruits internationally to find nurses for American hospitals.

Blame increased government efficiency in the wake of Sept. 11.

According to Stankus, the temporary EB-3 visas were devised to allow high-demand workers such as nurses to bypass the slow labor-certification process.  

Since Sept. 11, however, the State Department has devoted more resources to speeding up the process. Thousands of newly cleared immigrants lined up for visas, causing the Philippines, China and India to reach their quotas - something that had never happened previously.

"They dumped all these thousands of people into visas, and now they're used," Stankus said. 

Mark E. Dixon is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to ADVANCE.

US court halts prosecution of Sentosa nurses, lawyer

A United States court has ordered a halt on court proceedings against 10 Filipino nurses who resigned from a nursing home in the US, an online news report said Friday.

In a report by it stated that the appellate court stopped the Suffolk County district attorney’s prosecution of the 10 Filipino nurses and their lawyer, immigration attorney Felix Vinluan.

The four-person Appellate Division said in its 13-page decision that the charges “constitute an impermissible infringement upon the constitutional rights of these nurses and their attorney.”

The report added that the appellate court said the charges violated the nurses’ 13th Amendment rights that protect against “involuntary servitude” and Vinluan’s First Amendment rights.

The court stressed that the nurses’s shifts were covered when they quit their posts. The court gave weight to Vinluan’s right to advise his clients and stated that to “potentially inflict punishment for the good faith provision of legal advice is, in our view, more than a First Amendment violation. It is an assault on the adversarial system of justice.”

The nurses, who were recruited by SentosaCare, resigned from their jobs at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center on April 2006 due to violation of their original contracts and intolerable working conditions.

In March 2007, the Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota had won indictments against the nurses and Vinluan.

Last year, the State Education Department cleared the nurses of charges of placing the children’s welfare in jeopardy when they resigned en masse. Vinluan was also charged with criminal solicitation when he advised his clients’ of their rights to resign.

Brits prefer Filipinos to man nursing homes

FOR Filipinos wishing to work abroad, especially those in the medical field, not everything is bleak. 

Jocelyn Lantron, executive director of Global Placement Provider Ltd., said Britons prefer Filipinos to work in their nursing homes because they are caring, neat, hard working and adapt well to the Western setting because of their capability to speak English. 

Between this month and April, her agency will send about 50 volunteer nursing home workers to the United Kingdom. 

As volunteers, they will be entitled to free board and lodging but would not receive a salary. They are free to look for part-time jobs and will also receive a weekly allowance of 70 pounds. 

Depending on their performance, volunteers will have the chance to get hired by the institution and secure a working visa. Others may also get the chance to find employers and get hired as they establish connections. 

Global is a registered agency in UK and holds office in Singapore, Spain, Hong Kong and the Philippines (Manila and Bacolod). 

Lantron said most volunteers are nursing graduates while others have training in care giving. Some are graduates of other courses. 

She said her office will need more volunteers next year. 

Qualified applicants are preferably graduates of any medical course but any four-year course will do, speaks English, of legal age and above. A placement fee will be collected at a rate lower than other agencies. More information on this agency can be found at 

With the global economy tumbling at a steady pace, this development will surely revive the hopes of many Filipinos who desire to work abroad amid gloomy financial prospects. 

Retrenched OFWs have already reached thousands but those leaving the country are also similar in number, mostly bound for Arabian countries such as Qatar and Saudi.